Emily "Emm" Cameron Penney
22 May 1922 28 November 2018
22 May 1922 28 November 2018
Emily Cameron – later to become Emily Penney – was affectionately known in the family as The Gadget Queen…but more of that later. Born in Hope Hospital in Salford (Lancashire) on 22nd of May 1927 – in the gap between the two great wars, Emily was the 6th of seven children and the second daughter to William Percy and Lily Cameron. Growing up anywhere in the UK in those days was tough, and the family lived in a two-up-two-down terraced house with no hot water and an outside toilet. Bath nights consisted of boiling water and getting out the tin bath – and if you were last in you could come out dirtier than you went in! Cobblestone streets, corner shops and red telephone boxes were the order of the day. The family pet was a cat – called Tiger – and he seemed to be “renewed” every now and then, basically the same colour but somehow slightly different – possibly even a different gender - but he/she was always known as Tiger. Even back then responsible cat ownership meant that Grandad Cameron would have to take Tiger for a trip to the local vet to be “galvanised” - a term that made Em giggle even many, many years later. Emily was evacuated as a young teenager to Askam, where we believe she did some work on the local farm. After the war, days out to Blackpool, music on the “wireless”, dancing and singing in the church choir were eagerly anticipated activities – and Emily developed a passion for singing - becoming quite adept at turning out a song or two. Emily married William George Martin Penney (otherwise known as Bill) on the 16th December 1950. The marriage took place in the local church hall – where of course no alcohol was allowed. However, there was a pub literally around the corner, so it came as no surprise that during the course of the party that evening people were apt to disappear in two’s and three’s only to re-appear a short time later a little more festive and a little more willing to dance and celebrate. Yvonne was born “some-time later” and grew up as an only child – a far cry from Emily’s childhood with six siblings! Emily developed a taste for the latest of any type of gadget. She was an excellent cook and an avid reader, so whether it was a special kitchen implement for removing the leaf and top bit off a strawberry – or the latest Kindle electronic book, if it was new and it was a gadget – she had to have it. (I didn’t even know there WAS a tool for removing the top off a strawberry!! – it’s called a Huller by the way in case you are as ill-informed as I am!!). Her favourite shop became Lakeland because of its huge array of kitchen implements and gadgets. Her taste in pets moved on from pussy cats to pooches and by far the most beloved of these was Snowy – a small Maltese poodle… all white fur and dark eyes. Yvonne eventually married Gary – and produced two amazing grand-children for Emily to love and spoil and they, in turn produced two great grandchildren each. Bill and Em visited South Africa several times after we had moved over here in 1981, and this enabled Emily to indulge in her other passion – sitting in the African sun changing through several shades of brown in the few weeks they were here. It seems that the depth of the tan became one of the yardsticks by which a successful holiday was measured. Emily was an amazing woman, strong, generous, warm-hearted and possessing a wonderful – sometimes naughty – sense of humour. An independent woman, Em stayed in the UK living alone for several years after Bill had passed away. But fortunately for us, she finally came out here to live with us. It has been almost 5 years since she arrived in Cape Town, and we believe it was a fitting final chapter for this wonderful lady who loved her family, and particularly her daughter, so much. She will be sorely missed but we take comfort from knowing for certain where she has moved on to.
Even though I was an only child, life was anything but lonely. Friends were always welcomed at home …. and as a teenager – and even after leaving home – friends continued to feel welcome and would visit to enjoy Mum’s friendship. Shoe shopping with my Mum was a nightmare. From me as a very “choosey” teenager going from shop to shop to shop and finally going back to the first pair I had tried on, right through to Mum as a Senior Citizen. I took her to Green Cross, in the Blue Route to find a pair of shoes that would be comfortable. The shop assistant duly retrieved the correct size of shoe from the back of the store and Mum put them on. She voiced her concern that the shoes “…were not quite right…” to which the assistant replied – “do you always wear your shoes on the wrong feet madam?” non-stop giggling followed…. Laughter, love, a great sense of humour and total commitment to family – these are the things she leaves behind for generations to come.
A few memories of Grandma Dark chocolate Gingers, Marks & Spencers, Coronation Street, Neighbours, And East Enders, Mini-magnum ice creams, Ready salted crisps, Gadgets & gizmos, Cappucino, optimist, One-finger typing, Always ready smile, Generous, kind & dancing, Almost outgrown by great-grandchild, And…. Lakeland You may be gone but won’t be forgotten and thought of with love and happy memories often.
Growing up we only really saw our Grandma Penney in person every other year or so but those times we did spend together are some of my happiest childhood memories. Even now I can still picture her lying in the sun by the pool, gradually turning herself the colour of mahogany; or playing board games on a hot summer evening with the ice clinking in her glass of Pernod. When I lived in England and was able to go and visit her in Shawforth, she always welcomed us and made us feel at home. It was a great game to see what crazy new gizmos she'd collected since the last visit - there was always something new. Grandma loved trying out new gadgets. She was a wonderful, kind, generous person and I will miss her deeply. Goodbye Grandma, I love you.
I don’t know if there is a name for the relationship of 2 mothers-in-law, but I do know that to me Emm was a friend. I’ve known Emm since Yvonne and Gary got together – and after they moved to South Africa we still kept in touch. I’ve always thought her a very elegant lady and since she moved here and became a “neighbour” - or as I sometimes jokingly called her “that woman from next door” – I have got to know her much better. I can tell you that she was a warm hearted, loving, generous, fun loving and independent person. We had many a chat about “the good old days” and past memories and how to set the world to rights and I will miss all that very much. She was a devoted Mum, Grandma and Great Grandma and was much loved and will be greatly missed. God Bless You Emm
When I think of Emm I think of her at her immaculately kept home in Rochdale where she very kindly welcomed us to visit on several occasions while we lived in London. Not having any grandparents of my own I used to think of her as my granny-in-law – although I didn’t tell her that for a few years! I think of her going out of her way to cook me and Kristian a roast chicken dinner one night when our car broke down en-route to her house and we weren’t going to get there until much later than expected and she didn’t want us to go hungry. I think of her hundreds of books and how generous she was every time we saw her – she never let us leave without giving us something random like a juicer or a gravy jug or a bag full of books for the road. Emm had a quick wit and a cheeky smile and although she thoroughly intimidated me at first, I got to know her over time and grew to love her. I am so glad she was able to spend her last days surrounded by those who loved her so deeply. Emm, we love you and we will miss you greatly. Say Hi to Bill and Snowy from us. Love Nina.
Emm was a generous, practical soul who always seemed to me to be comfortable in herself. It is wonderful that her great-granddaughters, who could live into the 22nd century, will always remember someone born in the 1920’s. Love to Yvonne and family from Andy, Michaela and Evie